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Yankees notes: Karsay visits
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06/13/2003  9:37 PM ET 
Yankees notes: Karsay visits
Right-hander hopes to pitch by mid-March
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
Steve Karsay is out 8-12 months after surgery on to repair a tear in his right rotator cuff. (AP Photo)
NEW YORK -- Steve Karsay walked around the Yankees clubhouse in the Bronx this week, looking like a kid in a toy store without any money. Here he was, standing in his home clubhouse with his teammates, knowing he won't be able to pick up a baseball for at least another five months.

Less than a month ago, Karsay underwent surgery on his right shoulder to repair a tear in his rotator cuff, ending his season before it ever began. Since then, he has been living in Birmingham, Ala., rehabbing his arm in an attempt to be ready for Spring Training.

"For three and a half weeks, I feel pretty good. It's still early, but we're taking it one step at a time," Karsay said. "It's a long process. They say it's eight to 12 months, eight being best-case scenario and 12 being very conservative. I'm thinking right in the middle, which is 10 months, which brings me to mid-March."

After undergoing back surgery in November, Karsay was ready to go when Spring Training rolled around in February. With his back progressing nicely, Karsay was confident that he would be in full gear when the Yankees left for Toronto for Opening Day.

Then came the shoulder problems, which were originally diagnosed as bursitis.

"When I couldn't shake it, it was definitely frustrating," he said. "The tests didn't show anything wrong, so we figured we were dealing with a little tendinitis and bursitis, but it turned out to be much worse. I couldn't get over the hump, and then we found out why."

An MRI revealed further damage to Karsay's shoulder, and he went to Birmingham to have Dr. James Andrews perform the surgery.

"I've never had a problem with my shoulder before, so this was brand new to me," Karsay said. "Your arm is your livelihood. You can rehab your back or your legs, but once you start playing around with your elbow or shoulder, you have to make sure that everything you do is the right thing in the process."

In the early stages of rehab, Karsay has been unable to sleep in a bed, shifting between a recliner and the corner of the couch instead.

"That's the worst part of this whole process," he said. "It's like I'm taking mini-naps throughout the night."

Karsay doesn't have a satellite in Birmingham, but he watches the Yankees play whenever he gets the chance on ESPN or Fox. He said that watching the bullpen struggle early this season was difficult, as he longed to be with his team, trying to help them through some of the tougher times.

"You notice what's going on," Karsay said of the bullpen situation. "I wish I could be out there, be in the clubhouse to help out. There's nothing I feel worse about than not being able to be here to contribute. They're searching to try to fill a hole."

Although the months ahead will be difficult for the right-hander, he believes that the idea of pitching in pinstripes next spring will keep his mind focused on doing whatever is necessary.

"If I have to stay in Birmingham for eight months to be ready for next season, I will," Karsay said. "Opening Day is hard to pinpoint, but next year is definitely realistic. I'm going to do everything I can. I'm going to rehab twice a day, six days a week. I'm not even looking toward Opening Day next year. I'm working one step at a time."

Old friend: Joe Girardi spent four seasons with the Yankees, winning World Series titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999. On Friday, Girardi walked back into Yankee Stadium for the first time as a visiting player.

Girardi played a big part on those title-winning clubs, and also served as a mentor to Jorge Posada. Girardi, who could be a potential manager in his post-playing days, said that his respect for Joe Torre is something that will always stay with him.

"The one thing that Joe always did such a wonderful job of doing was he never panicked," Girardi said. "Everyone else wanted to panic about the club, but Joe never panicked."

While Girardi was not in the lineup on Friday, he brought out the Cardinals' lineup card before the game, meeting Torre at home plate. Girardi was looking forward to seeing how Tino Martinez, the former Yankee and current Cardinal, would be received by the Bronx crowd.

"I think the fans are really going to show the appreciation they have for Tino, because they really never got to say goodbye to Tino," Girardi said. "I think he's going to get just a very warm and thankful welcome tonight. I think it's good for Tino. Who wouldn't want a warm welcome from Yankee fans? They're great fans and he had so much success here. He deserves it."

Familiar foe: Torre said seeing the Cardinals across the field would be special, as the Yankees' manager played for St. Louis from 1969-74 and managed the Cards from 1990-95.

"It's always different, even when I watch them on TV," Torre said. "It's a very impressive uniform, I always thought the logo was dynamite. They're a very proud organization. I probably did more growing up in that organization than any other."

Torre was fired in 1995 after the Cardinals started 20-27. He was hired five months later as Yankees manager, and the rest is history.

"It was ugly in the last year, but I won't let one year mess up all the other years I was there," Torre said. "It turned out for the best, no question. You look ahead, you never look back. You can't gain anything by looking back."

Nick update The cast on Nick Johnson's fractured right hand will be removed in a week, at which point another MRI will be performed to determine the progress of the injury.

"We'll see what's shaking. If everything's fine, he'll start working out," Torre said. "Once he starts, it should come quickly."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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